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Germany set to end homeopathy refunds

July 11, 2019

The head of the main doctors' association and the SPD's health specialist have called for an end to refunds for homeopathy treatments in Germany. Their calls follow a similar move in France.

Symbolbild Homöopathie
Image: Fotolia/B. Wylezich

The head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), which represents 150,000 doctors and psychotherapists in Germany, said on Thursday that health insurance companies should not fund homeopathic services.

"There is insufficient scientific evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic procedures," Andreas Gassen told daily Rheinische Post. "If people want homeopathic remedies, they should have them — but not at the expense of the community."

There are about 7,000 homeopathic doctors registered in Germany who practice a system based on the belief that the body can cure itself, using minute amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals, to stimulate the healing process.

Read moreVictims' rights group urges German health insurers to cover online therapy

Gassen's comments follow those of the Social Democrat (SPD) health issues specialist and lawmaker Karl Lauterbach who has pressed for a law banning refunds for homeopathy.

"We have to talk about it in GroKo," Lauterbach said earlier this month, suggesting a discussion in the government grand coalition. He said the benefits paid for by insurers should be medically and economically sensible. He has the support of the Federal Joint Committee which decides on what is covered by payments from the statutory health funds.

A doctor examines a patient's head
In Germany there are 150,000 doctors — around 7,000 specialize in homeopathyImage: picture-alliance/dpa

France phases out payments by 2021

The move follows an announcement by the French health minister on Wednesday that reimbursements for homeopathic treatment would be reduced and then stopped completely by 2021.

Former doctor and current Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said she made the decision following a critical report on homeopathy published in June by the National Authority for Health (HAS) which concluded there was no benefit to the medicine and it had "not scientifically demonstrated sufficient effectiveness to justify a reimbursement."

"I have decided to start the process for complete non-reimbursement," Buzyn told Le Parisien newspaper. The current 30% of the cost of homeopathic treatments covered by the French social security will be phased down to 15% in 2020 and then to zero in 2021. Of the €20 billion euros ($22.4 billion) paid by the French state for medicines in 2018, just €126.8 million were for homeopathic treatments.

Britain's National Health Service (NHS) decided to stop funding homeopathic care in 2017.

jm/ng (AFP, dpa)

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